Ach aye! We’re goo-ing oot and aboot. (Nailed it). Continuing my quest to visit all of the UK I find myself finally visiting Scotland. My best friend Ellen was finally visiting from Melbourne so we took the opportunity to head north.
We decided pretty early on that we would do a trip around Scotland, having to travel by train we chose 4 key destinations to spend our time: Edinburgh, Stirling, Inverness, and Glasgow.
Edinburgh is a city with so many beautiful old buildings, there’s a wealth of old gothic architecture and cathedrals to waste days gazing at. The centre of the city is like a mini valley, with Edinburgh Castle perched high on a clifftop above, overlooking the old city. The castle is stunning from the outside, but be warned… it’s absolutely shite to visit. The best part is, of course, the view over the city; but the castle later in it’s life became more of a military base so much of the historic rooms and buildings are now regimental museums and old barracks.
Stirling is a city with a rich history, and one I didn’t actually want to visit originally but which ended up being the highlight of the trip! It’s location in the middle of Scotland has seen it as a strategic target for the warring kingdoms as it is the city that holds together the highlands with the lowlands. In medieval times it was actually the capital of Scotland, and was home to Mary Queen of Scots (Lolly from Neighbours in Reign), and where William Wallace (Mel Gibson in Braveheart) saw victory at the battle of Stirling bridge .
The highlight of Stirling (and the entire trip) was of course the Stirling Art Gallery and Museum… a big warehouse type building filled with very odd pieces such as ‘maybe Mary Queen of Scots football based on very little’ and ‘Moose head that probably died 100 years ago’ written on dodgy A4 bits of paper and stuck to the walls besides the pieces. The best part however, came at the end, where there was a dress up section besides the maybe old-maybe not moose head, as we turn back (previously hidden behind the moose head) was a taxidermy bat with two pieces of tape across it’s wings. No explanation, no sign, no proper display, just two bits of ordinary tape over it’s wings and four staples to hold the tape over the bat. It is here we learnt the TRUE meaning of ART.
As is standard of my holidays/entire life I befriended an adorable cat, who explored some of the chapel ruins with us and was super cuddly.
When we stayed in Inverness we made the decision to bike ride to Loch Ness, which in the middle of winter is a fucking freezing decision. We set out pretty early and spent however long it took feeling super unfit but determined on our mission. As we made it there we could see storm clouds over the loch approaching on the beautiful sunny day. This far we had been blessed with lots of cold winter sun and no rain. The dark clouds created a very strange effect on the water, obviously reflecting dark grey and vibrant blue side by side. We stopped at a pub for lunch before riding back - turns out the journey had been all uphill and we were able to travel nearly an hour with barely a pedal.
Glasgow is a bit more modern and industrial than Edinburgh, it’s also Scotland’s largest city. We spent our first full day at the Glasgow Science centre, which from the outside looks like a massive metal zeppelin (a lead zeppelin?). Inside was like a grownup playground, similar to scienceworks; there was also a massive planetarium which we had to pay a visit to.
We also paid a visit to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery + Museum, a massive old baroque styled building with daily organ recitals in the main foyer. There was tonnes of wicked old art and taxidermy animals AND DINOSAURS, so well worth the trip.
Our last few nights in Glasgow were spent at the Christmas markets, and because nothing says Christmas like infinitely duplicated generic markets, where I enjoyed the same gluhwein and pre-packaged tree decoration gingerbread for nights…. I can’t really complain though as these are certainly two of my biggest joys.
It’s been a very long time since I’ve laughed as much as I had travelling with Ellen. The bat, and our travel anthem (Fergie - MILF$), will remain very fond memories for me. If you ever find yourself heading.